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Duncan Clark, Renovare Fuels: Increasing the Sustainability of Aviation

In the face of ever-increasing scrutiny and criticism of the aviation industry, the world’s biggest airlines have been compelled to commit to carbon neutrality. As part of reducing their carbon footprints, airlines are increasingly adopting more fuel-efficient navigation techniques, as well as eliminating single-use plastics from their operations. Nevertheless, to truly stay ahead of the curve, aviation companies are rapidly turning to organisations like Renovare Fuels, a leading developer of biofuels.

What Are Biofuels?

As Duncan Clark – Renovare Fuels’ Business Development Director – will attest, biofuels show massive potential within the aviation sector in reducing carbon emissions, paving the way for green aviation.

Biofuels are produced from organic products known as ‘biomass’. They are largely generated from plant matter or animal waste. Today, bioenergy meets approximately 10% of global energy demand. Traditional forms of biomass, such as charcoal, fuelwood, and animal dung, are the most common energy sources. They are heavily relied on in developing countries, where they are used as part of cooking and heating processes.

In the shift away from fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal to cleaner energy sources, fuel producers have developed more sophisticated biofuels, extracting energy from a variety of sources. Biofuels can be produced in solid, liquid, and gas forms. In terms of sustainability efforts, perhaps the realm that shows greatest potential is biofuel developed from agricultural waste, utilising by-products of the food, forestry, and agricultural industries to power homes, factories, and transport.

How Could Biofuels Revolutionise Aviation?

According to the Air Transport Action Group, the aviation sector generated 2% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. While that may sound like a small percentage, it equated to 915 million tonnes of CO2. In terms of the well-documented effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment, conservationists and governments around the world are unanimous: 2% is still 2% too much.

Over the past few years, the aviation sector has experienced consistent growth. In 2019, the International Council on Clean Transportation warned that carbon emissions produced by the industry between 2013 and 2018 had grown 70% faster than predicted.

The global Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on air travel, drastically decreasing emissions for 2020. Environmentalists and industry experts agree that it is time to find ways of improving aviation sustainability in the mid- to long-term. Though the industry may be preoccupied with difficulties presented by Covid-19, long-term change is vital to the future of air travel and industry sustainability.

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy recently announced that it was investing £400 million in funding for green aerospace research and technology. In addition, after convening the first meeting of its Net Zero Board, the UK Department for Transport added international shipping and aviation to its Net Zero Target, driving impetus for a shift to greener aviation.

Aviation companies employ a variety of different tactics as part of efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Arguably one of the most impactful is the adoption of biofuels as part of fuel stock.

Waste-derived biofuels offer significant value to aviation fuel users. Since the feedstock originates in biodegradable waste products of other industrial sectors such as agriculture, adopting biofuels effectively eliminates carbon from the environment in its creation without competing with existing produce and crops or requiring additional energy input.

With an experienced management team including Chairman Matthew Stone, Renovare Fuels is leading the market in the development of second-generation biofuels for aviation. By partnering with biofuel producers like Renovare Fuels, aviation companies create sustainable fuel supply chains which, in the long-term, have vast potential in terms of offsetting emissions.

With the UK Government striving to promote green innovation, the development of second-generation biofuels shows potential to revolutionise aviation, making air travel greener and more sustainable while bolstering the UK’s sustainability efforts as a whole.